What is it about caves? An irresistibly enchanting hidey-hole to any small child and yet the birthplace of our deepest fears. Dragons, narguns, goblins, and gorgons are all born of caves, and yet who can go past an opening in the rock without peeking in? We cannot resist exploring this underworld of darkness which seems to provide safety from the perils outside, whi ... More
To complement the essays, commentaries, reviews, and photographic essay in this issue, we asked a group of leading environmentalists, scientists, commentators, and writers what they regard as the most urgent action needed for environmental reform.
There is an urgent need for widespread recognition of the interrelationship between the ... More
The Western Isles arch across the north-west coast of Scotland, sheltering the mainland from the North Sea’s fury. In summer there are few places more magical than these islands, which Seton Gordon once described as standing ‘on the rim of the material earth’ looking west to the immortal realm of Tir nan Og.
On the northern islands, granite and gneiss ... More
As I sit by the fire, a gale rackets at the door and horizontal sleet sheets across my windows. With monster snowfalls in the Alps, the weather is breaking records again. Each winter, the winds are stronger, rains heavier, and temperatures lower than ever before. I put more wood on the fire and consider my investment in double-glazing well-spent.
In our prot ... More
Literature has long provided a powerful outlet for the expression of our hopes and fears for an environmentally challenged future. In recent years, fictional depictions of the future have More
Many years ago, after working for a while in Europe, we returned to Australia via America. We picked up a car in Atlanta and drove through sprawling cities, alarming slums, and abandoned downtowns. Across Mississippi and the broad, reassuring openness of Texas, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, we passed through the alien electrics of Las Vegas, down into Death Valle ... More
Science may well have revolutionised our world, but David Knight finds ‘revolution’ to be an inexact metaphor for the ‘chancy, many stranded story’ he describes. He explores models from biography, with associated concepts of infancy, adolescence, and maturity, before settling on voyages of exploration and discovery. This choice is inspired in part by Newton ... More
I know we should never judge a book by its cover, but Iain McCalman’s ‘passionate history’ of the Great Barrier Reef is a book that truly delivers on the promise of its gloriously sumptuous jacket. Brilliantly coloured in the hues of the reef itself, it is a montage of historical photographs of Indigenous children engrossed in spearfishing above brightly paint ... More
All scientists are writers. Science only exists in the written form. What is not written is not published, is not accepted, is not knowledge, and does not exist. It is written science that is scrutinised, peer-reviewed, and cited – nothing else matters but to ‘publish or perish’. Scientific articles, in all their clever, compacted, content-laden complexi ... More